April 14, 2010
OHCA Contact: Jo Kilgore, Public Information Manager, (405) 522-7474.
SoonerCare Child Health Checkup Screening Rate Surpasses National Standard
OKLAHOMA CITY – At a time when Oklahoma is seeing record enrollment and claims for SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid), another record-breaking achievement is nothing but good news: Oklahoma has surpassed the national benchmark for child health screenings.
Child health checkups, also known as EPSDT (Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment) screens, were available to about 540,000 children younger than age 21 who were enrolled in SoonerCare last year. In federal fiscal year 2009, Oklahoma’s SoonerCare-enrolled children received 83 percent of recommended checkups. That’s up from 73 percent just the year before, and in 1996 just 20 percent of the recommended checkups were performed. The national standard set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is 80 percent.
Terrie Fritz, child health unit director at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, said she believes the increased screening rate can be attributed to several factors, including improved reporting by providers and efforts to increase awareness among providers and educate members about the importance of child health checkups.
“Having regular checkups helps kids to stay healthy, and it lets providers catch problems earlier before they produce more symptoms or a health problem becomes more serious,” Fritz said. “Kids having appropriate screens leads to improved health and well-being.”
The economic downturn being felt across the state and nation has led to record-breaking numbers of Oklahomans qualifying for SoonerCare. For February 2010 (the most recent data available), 685,445 Oklahomans were enrolled in SoonerCare. That’s up from just 621,482 in February 2009, an increase of about 9 percent.
The increased membership also has meant a huge jump in claims for health care services that must be processed by OHCA’s staff. More than 1 million claims were handled the week of March 17, and that month also set a record for total claims at more than 4.46 million, said John Calabro, director of information services.